Renaldo Wilson

Tackling Bone Density

Bone density has become an issue for all groups in society, but mainly for those in the older community and pregnant and post natal women. There are however ways of reforming some of the loss in bone density, and I’ll begin explaining it with an overview of the bone and skeletal system.

Skeletal System
Besides being the base structure of the body in skeletal form, bones, along with joints and muscles,
determine the range of motion for joints, the force that can be produced, and the specific movement allowed
in the body. The skeletal system is made up of three parts, all of which are necessary for normal function
and protection.

The skeletal system consists of osseous or bone tissue, cartilage and periosteum. The bones support soft
tissue, protect internal organs and help transport important nutrients through the body. The American
College of Sports Medicine defines cartilage as a resilient, semirigid form of connective tissue that reduces
friction and absorbs some shock in joints. The periosteum is a membrane covering bones, which serves as
a point of attachment for not only ligaments, but tendons as well.

Bone Physiology
Besides supporting, protecting and aiding in movement of the body, bones also store several minerals and
alternative energy, and produce red blood cells. Bones can distribute minerals to other parts of the body on
demand, as well as red blood cells in a process called hemopoiesis. Yellow marrow, one of the two types of
marrow in the bones -- red being the other -- contains adipose cells that can be used as an energy source
when needed.

Mesenchyme, the tissue from which all connective tissue is derived, forms osteoprogenitor, which can
divide and multiply. When this occurs, osteoblasts are formed. The main task of osteoblasts is to form new
bone when the diaphysis, the long shaft of the bone, undergoes a disturbance. Osteocytes are matured
osteoblasts and are called the principle cells of bone tissue. Osteoclasts originating from white blood cells
settle on the surface of bone to provide proper development, growth, maintenance and repair of bone.
Bone Health
Crystallized bone, called hydroxyapatite, contains nutrients and minerals, including salts, calcium,
magnesium hydroxide, fluoride and sulfate. These minerals need to be replenished and can be obtained
both in food and supplemental form. Vitamin D3 is needed when taking calcium to ensure proper absorption,
so speak with a physician before beginning a new calcium or bone supplement to make sure it won't
counteract with other drugs or supplements you are taking. Proper nutrition and care, such as finding shoes
that fit properly to ensure support of the skeletal system, are important factors for long-term bone health.

Calcium supplements, mainly in the form of limestone (Calcium Carbonate), oyster shells, and bone meal, have been shown time and again to cause an increase in clogged arteries, and many studies, (i.e. Dr. Mercola, the Bone Mass Journal, Osteoporosis International, ect.) show a 24-27% increase in myocardial infarction (heart attack), depending on if it was taken with Vitamin D3 or not. The preferred sources of calcium then, become calcium citrate and food sources of calcium like: canned salmon, low-fat yogurt, milk and cheese, as well as dark green leafy vegetables like kale.
Resistance Training and Bone Health
Bone density can be partially regained not only through nutrition, but also through resistance training. By working the bones, they receive a stress signal to release the aforementioned osteoblasts to aide in strengthening the bone. Repeated bouts of this make bones stronger each time it occurs. An example of an exercise to build bones would be a weight directing on top of the diaphysis of the bone like dumbbell shoulder press and barbell back squats. Another important factor to remember, is that when osteopenia has progressed, and has then been classified as osteoporosi, then spinal flexion, lateral flexion and rotation should be discontinued, replaced instead with spinal extension only.These moves, as well as many others, may need to be modified depending on previous injuries, pregnancy or osteoporosis.

Further Assistance
Outside of the gym, it is always appropriate to speak with your physician about your own personal capabilities, in terms of your overall bone health. A loss of bone density is no longer necessarily a death sentence. Help is literally around the corner in our weight room.


●"ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2009

●"Principles of Anatomy and Physiology"; Tortora & Derrickson; 2009

●"Essentials of Strength and Conditioning"; Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle; 2000

●PubMed: Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis.

●BMJ: Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis

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